On The Flavour Trail From Sooke To Jordan River

“Going Coastal: On the flavour trail from Sooke to Jordan River”


With its rugged coastal beauty, Highway 14 from Sooke to Jordan River lures hikers, bikers, fishers, foragers, surfers or anyone wanting to commune with the great outdoors. However, the winding and scenic road is also a flavour trail worthy of exploring for its farm-to-table dining, artisan salt and the latest craft spirits, to down-home comfort foods and genuine hospitality. Whether it’s a day trip or weekend getaway, the road ahead has never looked more delicious.

Stick in the Mud bumpersticker

Stick in the Mud bumpersticker

Stick in the Mud

Locally roasted and ethically sourced is the premise behind the beans of spirited owner Dave Evans and his coffee shop. Stay alert with the VOS INO, an Americano named for Sooke’s former postal code (for extra Sooke cred, buy the postal code bumper sticker). Or choose from the list of sense-of-place-flavoured lattes named for the many beaches in the area. Twelve bean varietals are roasted on site, and a signature bottled cold brew coffee is ready for take home. Hunger is abated with on-site-baked treats, wraps and breakfast sandwiches and you’re good to go. For those in a hurry to get to the beach or the trail, steer over to Speed Stick, Evans’s beverage-only outlet next door.

Stick in the Mud, 6715 Eustace Rd., 250-642-2477, stickinthemud.ca



Jessica and Jeff Abel have transformed a salt-making hobby into a full-time enterprise. Buoyed by their success selling at farmers’ markets, they built a commercial kitchen with storefront and two large solar greenhouses for evaporating salt, laying claim to creating Western Canada’s first solar-evaporated sea salt. Their snowy white salt, the result of the ocean’s fast-moving currents where the water is gathered, has a bright smooth flavour with a gentle lingering finish. Visitors can tour the greenhouses and taste and purchase a range of Saltwest products ranging from organic herbal infusions to a flakey flor de sal, the popular sweet-smokey maple salt, or a sinful dessert salt of caramel and chocolate. The salt can be found in the kitchens of Sooke Harbour House and Wild Mountain.

Saltwest, 7585 Lemare Cres., Sooke, 778-977-3994, saltwest.com. Open for tours, Wed.-Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.


Wild Mountain Food and Drink

Overlooking Sooke Harbour near the Government Wharf, Oliver Kienast and Brooke Fader’s charming restaurant (see Restaurant Reporter, July-August 2015) offers a casually elegant room and menu at affordable prices, using all local ingredients from sea to farm. Although it’s dinner only, diners can pop in for an early snack (dinner service starts at 5) with a glass of wine or craft brew, or early dinner before the drive home. The adjoining house is also available for overnight stays and can be booked in advance for a farm-to-table-to-bed experience.

1831 Maple Ave. South, Sooke, 250-642-3596, wildmountaindinners.com


Sooke Harbour House

This iconic inn and restaurant is celebrated for its charming seaside setting, edible gardens and steadfast focus on local, regional and wild foods. A culinary destination created 36 years ago by owners Frederique and Sinclair Phillip, the celebration continues with news of The Copper Room, a casual, 40-seat dining room slated to open late fall/early winter. Housed in the main floor’s Garden Room, diners can sink into comfy couches around the fireplace or view the edible gardens on the patio to enjoy a bistro-style menu for lunch and dinner. This makes daytrips enticing and is in addition to the regular dining room where both menus are overseen by returning chef Brock Windsor. (He recently owned and operated Cowichan’s Stone Soup Inn.) Working with Sooke farmers and purveyors, Windsor is increasing the menu’s local mandate with renewed vigour. Also in the works, an expansion of 22 new guest rooms, along with a private beachside spa facility.

1528 Whiffen Spit Rd., 250-642-3421, sookeharbourhouse.com


Tugwell Creek Farm and Meadery

Passionate beekeepers, educators and mead-makers Bob Liptrot and Dana LeComte tend more than 100 hives, whose bees luckily feed in the Sooke wilds on unsprayed forage, creating diverse honey and mead profiles. Their sustainable farm and meadery (B.C.’s first), which opened in 2003, is also part of Économusée, a network of artisans providing unique experiences in tasting and learning. (The only other member in Western Canada is Merridale Estate Cidery in Cobble Hill.) Visitors can view the gardens, learn about the importance of bees in our lives and taste honey as well as a selection of their award-winning “bee-to-bottle” meads, including one on tap. Don’t miss the Solstice Metheglin, a wildflower mead flavoured with ginger and spice, aged six months in French oak.

8750 West Coast Rd., 250-642-1956, tugwellcreekfarm.com


Kemp Lake Music Café

It’s not often you can pick up a litre of milk while attending a musical interlude, but the Kemp Lake Music Café offers just that. And more. Owners Eric Shelkey, his wife Wendy Palynchuk and cousin Merl Brethor keep the vibe laid-back with an eclectic offering of cornerstore, café, vintage vinyl, guitar accessories and performance space. Both men are musicians and take turns serving customers, jamming on guitar with regulars or tending the till while Wendy cooks up hearty fare of bacon and eggs, soups, sandwiches and baked goods. The chicken poutine, a heaping mound of Kennebec fries, cheese curds, bacon, caramelized onions and gravy, is the cult favourite. And open mic nights every Sunday are a community affair where you can hear anything from Hendrix to Dylan covers and ’60s pop hits.

7875 West Coast Rd., 250-642-7875


Shirley Delicious

Further along the route, Shirley Delicious, the wooden A-frame eatery, beckons with its colourful patio chairs and flower gardens. Since 2013, perpetually happy co-owner Phillip Du Preez has been holding court, serving up wholesome breakfast, lunch and Sunday brunch menus. Originally from South Africa via Salt Spring Island, Du Preez moved to Shirley for a life change. The former army chef, business owner and coffee geek was struggling to make ends meet in this tiny community when someone encouraged him to take on the former Country Cupboard location. He snatched the “dangling carrot” and vowed to give the turnkey operation a year. Within eight months, he’d proudly scored #1 on TripAdvisor for the Sooke area and has never looked back (the café is still #1). The place fills for weekend brunches of shakshouka eggs in a spicy tomato sauce. And the sausage rolls, made with pork, caramelized apple and sage, are the house favourite.

2794 Sheringham Point Rd., 778-528-2888


Sheringham Distillery

Unearthing antique liquor bottles on a 1930s rental property, hearing tales of seedy hotels, moonshine and clandestine stills—these are some of the inspirations behind Sheringham Distillery, the newest addition to the Sooke to Jordan River trail. Launched this past June, Jason and Alayne MacIsaac’s distillery sits atop their 11-acre property with views out to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Pillar Point, a notorious rum-running area. Their grain-to-glass vodka and William’s White, an aged grain spirit—a modern-day moonshine—are small batch, crafted from local organic grains, malted barley and spring water from an on-site aquifer. The vodka is smooth and buttery with anise and vanilla notes, and the William’s White has a peppery finish. The packaging evokes an old-timey feel with bottles and logo that mimic one they unearthed on the property, and Sheringham was the original name for the town of Shirley, where they’re located.

2631 Seaside Dr., Shirley. 778-528-1313, by appointment, sheringhamdistillery.com


Point No Point

Take shelter at this 25-cabin resort dating back to the 1950s, set on a bluff above the coastline. Its beach trails and roaring surf offer wild coast appeal, an ideal location for whale or otter spotting. Lunch at the restaurant makes for a great daytrip for the chicken confit, but the dinner hour is when longtime chef Jason Nienaber shines with an accomplished menu of local and housemade ingredients that would be at home in any big city.

10829 West Coast Rd., Shirley, 250-646-2020, pointnopointresort.com


Murray Higgins

Murray Higgins

Last Stop, Jordan River

Taking cues from Shakie’s, the former iconic Jordan River burger shack, chef and avid surfer Murray Higgins joined forces with Josh Constandinou and Christine Winsby to open the Cold Shoulder Café late last year. Find it facing the water at the end of Jordan River’s tiny commercial strip (which it shares with the recently opened Far Out Pizza café and photography gallery) as the road bends abruptly north. Part café, part shiny red food truck, “beach fast food and awesome coffee” was being served up to travellers, locals and surfers. Freshly baked scones, muffins and cinnamon buns continue to be the café’s specialty, and that “awesome coffee” is brought to you by Stick in the Mud, where the journey began. Higgins has since uprooted the truck to 6509 Sooke Rd, renaming it the Curry Bomber. Curry in its various permutations from West Indian Style to Thai Green will rule the roost.

11950 West Coast Rd., Jordan River, 250-646-2181


What does the future hold for the area? One highly anticipated opening is Sooke Oceanside Brewery. Ryan Orr, a chef and Sooke resident currently cooking at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, is putting the finishing touches on his craft brewery. Already being referred to playfully as SOB, the brewery will be housed in an as-yet undisclosed… Other intriguing food and lodging enterprises beckon along the next leg in this route, the 50-minute drive from Jordan River to Port Renfrew. Clearly, the flavour trail has only just begun.


– By Shelora Sheldan


Where to Stay

Soule Creek Lodge (Port Renfrew)

Sooke Harbour House

Point No Point Resort

Cold Mountain guesthouse

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